Don't let the sports theme fool you: this is a hardcore tabletop-based wargame in which everything from your overarching gameplan down to the mere sequence in which you move your players can spell the difference between victory and defeat.
+The rules are easy to understand at the basic level, with the more complex players' skills adding depth as your team progresses.
+Excellent sense of progression in watching your players gain experience and acquire new skills that let you custom-tailor your team.
+An amusing tongue-in-cheek universe that provides outstanding fluff to the game.
+Dozens of premade teams that allow you to jump right into the action if you don't feel like dealing with the aspects of managing your own.
+A resource-efficient graphical style that looks good even with fairly low-end GPUs, like my laptop's mere integrated graphics card.
+An inducement system that keeps games between teams of different developmental levels competitive, without completely negating the advantages of a well-developed squad.
-The game seems tailored for those experienced with the tabletop version, resulting in a rather lackluster tutorial. Though it does an adequate job of teaching the mechanics of the game, you're mostly left on your own to figure out the best ways to make use of those mechanics. You should look up fansites to read up on some effective tactical doctrines if you don't feel like learning through trial-and-error. Fortunately, they're easy to find.
-Missing some of the races from the current version of the tabletop rules, as well as a large number of Star Players (special players you can hire to play for your team for one game only, usually as part of the inducement system).
*Only marginal in terms of balance. There's a great amount of customization that lets you remain competitive, but there are some skills that are just flat-out better than others, and some races that have intrinsic advantages over others.
*There's in-game announcing, fitting with its sports theme, but limited variety means you'll be hearing the same things over and over before long. Still, I like hearing the announcers, because they give some amusing anecdotes from and comments on the universe's rich fluff and history.
*The game sticks rather faithfully to the tabletop rules, which means many things from success or failure on the field to a degree of player progression are determined by dice rolls. This can be alternatingly thrilling and frustrating, and although the random aspects aren't enough to negate skill, it's important to remember that nothing is ever certain in Blood Bowl.
*Player turnover. Some people like constantly raising new players, while others may be upset when their star player dies. Don't get too attached to your players, because the game is called Blood Bowl for a reason.
*The sheer number of player skills, while good in the long run, can be a bit overwhelming at first until you've managed to memorize what they all do and how to take advantage of them.
*The many different races, while each offering unique roster possibilities, tend to fall broadly into variations of 2-4 general playstyles rather than each offering truly unique gameplay opportunities.
If you like turn-based strategy games, this is an easy recommendation. If you like turn-based strategy games, bloody carnage, and a rich, amusing setting, this is a must-have.
28 December 2012